5 Ampatuans moved to Manila jail

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Saturday, April 17, 2010


DAVAO CITY -- A Quezon City court ordered Friday the transfer of key suspects in the November 2009 Maguindanao massacre from Mindanao detention centers to a penitentiary in Taguig City.

Former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. was ordered released from a military hospital in Camp Panacan, this city, where he was treated for high blood pressure, and transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa Penitentiary in Taguig City.

The other Ampatuans -- former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) governor Zaldy Ampatuan, Akmad Ampatuan Sr., Sajid Ampatuan, and Anwar Ampatuan -- were airlifted to this city from their detention cells in General Santos City in Northern Mindanao region.

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The Ampatuans were brought to Manila Friday night on board a military plane from this city. They arrived at Villamor Airbase around 10:30 p.m. and were immediately transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa.

The five massacre suspects will join Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., principal suspect in the November 23 carnage, at the penitentiary.

Ampatuan Jr. was recently transferred from his detention cell at National Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Manila to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

Fifty-two other suspects in the Maguindanao massacre will also be moved from Camp Crame to the five-storey detention center inside the National Capital Region Police compound.

Suspension

Also on Friday, National Police Commission (Napolcom) has ordered a 90-day suspension against 62 policemen for their possible involvement in the gruesome killings.

The order includes police officers detailed at Maguindanao Police Provincial Office, the Ampatuan and Shariff Aguak Municipal Police stations, 1507th and the 1508th Police Provincial Mobile Group, and the 15th Regional Mobile Group.

“The commission after a careful evaluation of the record at hand vis-à-vis the aforementioned provision is convinced that legal grounds exist to place the respondents under preventive suspension for 90 days,” Napolcom said in a resolution.

The resolution was signed by local government Secretary Ronaldo Puno, Napolcom Vice Chairman Eduardo Escueta, Commissioner Luisito Palmera, and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Jesus Verzosa.

The commission also directed PNP Director for the Directorate for Personnel and Records Management Abner Cabalquinto for the immediate implementation of the order.

Among the police officers suspended were Superintendents Abusama Maguid, Bahnarin Kamaong, and Abdulwahid Pedtucasan, Chief Inspector Zukarno Dicay, Senior Inspectors Abdulgapor Abad and Saudi Mokamad, and Inspector Rex Ariel Diongon.

Maguid was the officer-in-charge of the Maguindanao Police Provincial Office, while Dicay was the Deputy provincial director.

Accompanied by their counsel, Harry Roque Jr., the families of the slain journalists who stood as complainants against the 62 policemen received a copy of the suspension order Friday afternoon at the commission's main office in Makati City.

Roque said the suspension constitutes the first legal victory for the Maguindanao massacre victims.

"It is our hope that this is only the beginning of the many other victories that the victims are entitled to, particularly in the pending criminal cases filed against suspected perpetrators," he said.

The Ampatuans have been facing multiple murder charges in connection with the Maguindanao massacre.

The hearing of the murder cases against Ampatuan Jr. has been suspended since February 10, 2010.

Aside from the murder charges, a case for rebellion was also filed against members of the political clan but it was dismissed by a Manila court for lack of evidence.

Reinstatement

State lawyers on Friday, however, pushed for reinstatement of the dismissed rebellion case.

Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers led by Aldrin Evangelista said Quezon City Judge Vivencio Baclig committed what they describe as grave abuse of authority for dismissing last month the rebellion case against the Ampatuans.

In a 28-page motion the prosecutors submitted before Baglig's office, the state prosecutors said the judge had cost the government an important case for dismissing the rebellion case.

The prosecutors protested Baglig's decision, allowing defense lawyers, led by Philip Sigfrid Fortun, to cross-examine the government's witnesses and even allowed them to present their own pieces of evidence in an initial phase of the proceedings called judicial determination of probable cause.

"It is clear that judicial determination of probable cause is a matter to be determined by the judge whose discretion is limited to requiring the prosecution to adduce additional evidence in case of doubt… Yet, despite the continuing objection of the prosecution, Judge Baclig allowed the defense to cross-examine prosecution witnesses and even adduce evidence," the motion stated.

Government lawyers emphasized that it should have not been the case since it is only during the trial proper where defense is allowed to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses and present their own pieces of evidence.

They said while Baclig has been repeatedly stating at the course of the proceedings that the admission of the defense's evidence is conditional, the problem is that the judge used the same pieces of evidence in junking the rebellion case.

Both the prosecution and the defense lawyers, however, decided to allow the court to rule on it in the soonest possible time. (NCB/BOT/AH/VR/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

5 ampatuans moved manila jail

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